Recent Op-Eds

South Dakotans Persevere

September 7, 2012 - September 10, 2012

Harvest season is usually one of the best and busiest times in South Dakota. Normally, on a fall drive through the countryside, the familiar sound of combines harvesting truckload after truckload of corn, soybeans, and other crops marks the end of another productive year. This year, however, the drought-stricken South Dakota landscape and loss of crops makes this fall much different and more challenging for farmers, ranchers, and livestock producers.

Following the excessive spring moisture and record floods of 2011, no one would have predicted that 2012 would bring extreme heat, a crippling moisture shortage and the worst drought in decades. Unlike other natural disasters, drought is a slow, steady destroyer of crops, pastures, water supplies, and even lawns. Other disasters, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, can create a path of destruction in less than an hour, while drought can damage a region for months, and sometimes even years.

Despite the damaging effects of this year’s drought, I sense a resilience and perseverance unique to South Dakotans. As I’ve traveled across the state, walked the fields, talked to farmers and ranchers at Dakotafest and the State Fair, and met with agriculture groups, I am always impressed by the strength and tenacity of generations of family farmers in South Dakota. These family farms and ranches have endured 100 and some even more than 125 years on South Dakota’s sometimes harsh and unforgiving landscape. This year is not their first drought, and unfortunately, it will not be their last, but their resolve provides motivation to younger generations of agricultural producers and inspires Congress to support fiscally responsible agriculture policies that provide a safety net only when needed. These policies must ensure that farmers and ranchers can continue to produce a reliable, safe, and inexpensive food supply with the least amount of federal assistance and without burdensome and senseless regulatory interference.

Our farmers and ranchers play an important role in making our state's economy a success. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and having helped draft the last several Farm Bills, I will continue to work with producers and stakeholders across the state to secure South Dakota’s and our nation’s agriculture industry for years to come.